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Things To Know About The “Old Fashioned”

There is no other whiskey drink more satisfying than the Old Fashioned. It’s brown and boozy, a little sweet and a little bitter. With the cocktail revolution came the resurgence of classic cocktails across the nation but luckily, the Old Fashioned is one cocktail that has never gone out of style. Whether you’re new to the classic cocktail or you’ve been drinking them for years, here are few Old Fashioned facts to stir conversation and thoughtful sipping.

It is old

As the name suggests the “Old Fashioned” is really old, like 1806 old. The basic recipe was first mentioned in The Balance and Columbian Repository in Hudson, New York, as “a potent concoction of spirits, bitter, water and sugar.” While this defined the word cocktail for many years, drinkers started ordering Old Fashioned in earnest in the 1860s.

It doesn’t have to be Whiskey

The most popular choice for Old Fashioned is certainly is whiskey and every time you order one at a bar you’ll get it in whiskey only but you can make it with any spirit.  It works well with brandy, mezcal, rum, gin and many other spirits.

It began as the Whiskey Cocktail

The Old Fashioned is a cocktail of evolution. There really is not a particular person to pin for its so-called invention. What we do know is that by the time cocktail recipe books began appearing in the late 19th century, what we basically would call an Old Fashioned today was often under the title of Whiskey Cocktail. Perusing the pages of different iterations of barman Harry Johnson’s “Bartenders’ Manual” is an excellent example of seeing that change over time. The 1887 first edition offers up the Whiskey Cocktail with gum syrup, ice, Angostura or Boker’s bitters, a couple of dashes of curaçao, and whiskey. By 1887, he ditched the Angostura. By 1900, he swapped the syrup for raw sugar and called for a couple of dashes of curaçao or absinthe. All iterations got a lemon twist expressed over the top.

Most popular cocktail in the US  

People of Wisconsin so much love their Old Fashioned that there are multiple riffs on the regular. Order it sweet, and you’ll get a gun splash of lemon-lime soda. Order it sour, and you may well get sour mix. Sweet versions also stand out for their extra punch of bitter with the sweet. There’s an Old Fashioned, and then there’s the Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet, a Wisconsin-centric concoction that goes heavy on the Angostura.

The sugar makes a difference

The argument about higher-proof spirits in cocktails comes down to balance. You don’t want to disguise ingredients; you want everything to be present. With the Old Fashioned, it depends on what you’re using as your sugar source and how much. If you only have one-to-one simple syrup to work with, don’t mind using younger bourbon between 80 to 90 proofs and try to go lighter on the sugar increment. If you are using the 91-plus proof and the whiskey is aged, try heavier syrup such as two-to-one Demerara sugar as the sugar source.

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